Surprisingly, this movie really was quite scary!
A simple story, inspired by the old urban legend, with nothing too impressive about the overall production, but it really does deliver the creeps.
One odd thing that really stood out to me, is that the ambient sound used for the THX surround sound test seems to have been directly inspired by this film's score. It was curious at first, but it reappears several times, often in tense scenes, and unfortunately, that really distinctive sound (you can't miss it!) really defused some of the tension for me.
But, putting that distracting sound and the occasional lumbering scenes (particularly in the middle) aside, When A Stranger Calls still manages to be quite scary.
I recommend this film to anyone who is a B-horror junkie, or who appreciates a good old fashioned creep-out kind of story, without the flash of special effects. No deep thought is required here; just turn the lights out, and enjoy the goosebumps!
Just a thought:
It's evident to me that Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons) must be a fan of this film. I couldn't help but notice that The Simpsons characters Arty Ziff and Police Cheif Wiggum bare certain resemblances and voice characteristics to Jill's husband (oh, that hair!) played by Steven Anderwon, and the Private Detective, played by Charles Durning (who was an odd choice for this role, in my opinion.) There is also a mention of this film's story/urban legend in the first Simpson's Halloween special -- that episode also steals heavily from the 1980 TV movie "The Babysitter"... but I digress.
Director: Fred Walton
Main Cast: Tony Beckley (this is his last film), Charles Durning, Carol Kane, Colleen Dewhurst
For anyone who is not already familiar with the classic "babysitter gets menacing phone calls" urban legend, this trailer will be slightly spoilerish for you. But, for anyone who has heard that old campfire / sleepover story, there's nothing here you don't already know: